I am very excited to be starting my own blog, on my swanky new website! Please bear with me as I work hard to complete my site 🙂
I have been meaning to start my own blog for ages as a way of documenting my reflections from the classroom as a maths teacher, and now that I have a bit of time I have finally got round to it. I have a few ideas for things to share but could not decide on which one until a conversation I had tonight about the culture of disengagement in maths. Why do students not like maths? What can we, as teachers, do about it? Of course there is a lot of literature out there written by experts who could answer those questions far better than me, but I would like to offer my methods and their impact.
Maths is hard, but that’s part of its charm
Let’s face it, maths is hard, and this has ultimately been the sticking point for students who lack resilience. The difference between those who believe they are ‘good at maths’ and those who aren’t, is that the former like the challenge whereas the latter don’t have the resilience or perseverance to roll up their sleeves. Getting it wrong the first time or reaching a problem puts some students off and they give up. Others aren’t prepared to work hard to fulfil their potential, which has certainly been the most frustrating thing for me to deal with. I have worked hard to try to motivate my classes to perform to the best of their ability and I believe I have had a positive impact on some, whilst others have left me wondering what might have been. Of course, the old proverb ‘you can lead a horse to water…’ springs to mind. So how do you motivate students who don’t put in the effort that they are capable of?
There is an unfortunate culture in society that suggests it is ok to not be good at maths and there are only a select few who can be good at it. In spite of this, I aim to promote the idea that anyone can be successful mathematicians and it is not about getting the right answer. I want students to have a growth mindset, to believe that they can take on knowledge like anybody else, which is why I am an advocate of mixed attainment classes. I am excited to be introducing this to the maths classroom in a few weeks and look forward to documenting my reflections on its impact. But for now I have implemented a number of things, with varied effectiveness, with the aim of changing the culture in my classroom. Over the next couple of weeks I will be sharing some of these strategies and how effective I feel they have been. I hope that my ideas are going some way to building a culture of positivity in my maths lessons, although I know that the battle is not yet won. Here goes…